• Jay EuDaly

Anatomically-Based Scale Fingering

Here is the first 2-octave major scale pattern most guitar teachers teach:

I call this the "2nd-finger pattern" because the root is played with the 2nd finger. It requires a 4-fret stretch.


Contrary to common practice, here's the one I usually teach first - I call it the "1st-finger pattern" because the root is played with the 1st finger. It requires a 5-fret stretch:


Question: Why start a beginner student with an initial scale pattern that requires a 5-fret stretch instead of the easier 4-fret pattern?



First of all, a 5-fret stretch is not a big deal for any teenager or adult - as long as they have the optimum placement, hand position and fingering, no matter what size hand they have. So it's an opportunity to talk about, apply and begin to deal with those technique issues from the get-go.


Secondly, all my students have gone through the 5-Lesson Foundational Series before they get to the point where they're working on scales. One of the concepts given in those lessons is a pattern of 1st and 2nd octaves from a root on the 6th and 5th string:

These octave patterns are embedded in the 1st-finger scale patterns:

So the scale pattern is built upon something the student has already learned; the octave pattern from a 6th or 5th-string root.


BTW: Why no notes on the 1st string? There are scale tones that can be played on that string, right? Yes, there are, and in the real world I access them all the time. However, when drilling, I want the student to start on the root and end on the 2nd octave. The main reason for this has to do with ear training.


Thirdly, the 2nd-finger pattern from a 5th-string root cannot complete the 2nd octave without a radical shift:

The above pattern was called the "Segovia fingering" when I was at conservatory in the 70's. (Diatonic Major and Minor Scales by Andres Segovia.) I practiced that shift for hours - the goal was to hear no difference in tempo, tone, legato and inflection when making the shift. That fingering was the bane of my playing for a semester.


I eventually got my teacher's approval (Douglas Niedt) and moved on but I now have avoidance issues when it comes to that particular fingering! However, the level of technique-when-shifting that I attained because of it has stood me in very good stead over the many years of playing since then. When improvising I routinely make major position shifts with ease, in part because of the work I did on the Segovia fingering. So there is that.


The 1st-finger pattern that starts on a 5th-string root doesn't have this radical shift problem:

The only catc